Microsoft Announces Technology Tools For Helping Faculty Create and Manage Online Resources And Comply With Instructional Management System Standards

REDMOND, Wash., March 8, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new technology tools developed to empower faculty members to create and manage online learning resources with Microsoft Ò Office 2000 in compliance with Instructional Management Systems (IMS) specifications, as well as a new set of resources to enhance educators’ use of the Microsoft FrontPage Ò 2000 Web site creation and management tool in the classroom. With the new IMS Meta-Data Add-In for Microsoft Office 2000 Professional and access to the add-in source code, which supports the IMS Learning Resource Meta-data specifications, educators using Office 2000 can easily create meta-data. In addition, using FrontPage 2000 and the new add-in, faculty members can design rich instructional Web sites and incorporate simple computer-based quizzing solutions into their instruction materials.

Recent research from International Data Corp. (IDC), the Framingham, Mass., market research firm, reveals that college and university faculties are increasingly integrating technology into instruction and using the Internet as a communication and instructional tool. According to IDC’s IT report,
“Spending Forecast for Higher Education Institutions, 1998-2003,”
a growing number of professors are posting assignments and lesson plans online or accessing updated curriculum content from the Internet, and an increasing number of students are submitting term papers or other assignments electronically. IDC forecasts that the Internet will continue to grow as a virtual meeting place for teachers and students on and off campus, where information can be accessed any time, anywhere.

“The Internet has dramatically improved access to teaching resources and learning materials for faculty and students, but educators tell us they need easy-to-use tools for developing and managing online content,”
said Toby Richards, director of higher education programs in the Microsoft Education Group.
“Finding relevant information and resources on the Internet for use in courses is a difficult process for educators. Until now there hasn’t been a standard for describing available content, which is why Microsoft is demonstrating its support of the new IMS standards, especially the new IMS Meta-data specifications, by creating the Office 2000 add-in.”

The meta-data add-in for Office 2000 is part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to support IMS. Last month Microsoft joined other e-learning community members to announce support for Learning Resource iNterchange (LRN), an XML-based schema developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium and the software industry to define course content and allow organizations and e-learning providers to easily create and manage compatible online content. At that time Microsoft also released the LRN Toolkit, which provides content and technology partners with the resources to quickly create LRN-compatible content and applications, increasing the viability of online learning for knowledge workers. In addition, the company’s online learning content from Microsoft Press, MSDN TM and Microsoft Official Curriculum will support LRN in all forthcoming content.

IMS-Compliant Add-In and Source Code Available for Use With Office 2000

A meta-data-generation tool for use within Microsoft Office 2000, the new Office 2000 add-in is a free, IMS-compliant wizard that will help faculty members and informational technology professionals describe learning resources they have created and then share those resources with others. For example, the IMS-compliant Office 2000 add-in will allow educators to use a product from the Office 2000 Professional suite, such as Word, the PowerPoint® presentation graphics program or Excel, to create a resource for a course, class lecture, lab assignment or training, and attach an electronic label so the resource can be shared with peers around the world. This label will include 21 meta-data fields to, for example, let educators know who created the resource, what it covers or if there is a cost for using it in their courses.

IMS is collaborating with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to host a directory of applications that support the new specifications. In turn, these applications may be used to create learning object resources. IMS Consortium members are creating systems for packaging and managing content, and IMS is actively collaborating with other standards-development organizations to ensure that the specifications have wide applicability, internationally and across e-learning and e-training domains.

“The phenomenal growth in the use of Internet technology for teaching and learning in classrooms and in corporate and government training environments has fueled an equal increase in the number of developers focusing on the distributed learning market. Without open technical standards, incompatible learning systems will proliferate, and educators and learners will be stymied when trying to find, use and create classroom resources,”
said Edward Walker, CEO of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
“Support for the IMS specifications by industry leaders such as Microsoft will revolutionize higher education and ultimately lead to better products and better learning environments for students and lifelong learners in all distributed learning situations.”

Microsoft also will make the source code for the Office 2000 add-in available, enabling users to build their own IMS-compliant applications. With access to source code, educators and corporate users will be able to modify the software they are using to create new resources for their classrooms or online training programs and adapt tools to meet their users’ specific needs.

The Office 2000 add-in was developed by and is one of the first implementations of the IMS Meta-data specifications. Microsoft chose to work with, a leading supplier of corporate e-learning solutions, because of’s efforts in making online training simple, quick and productive. The Office 2000 add-in will be available on the Microsoft in Higher Education Web site, at , the IMS Web site, at , and the Web site, at . The source code for the Office 2000 add-in will be available at the Web site.

“One of the primary obstacles limiting the adoption of e-learning has been the technical difficulty in creating and accessing online training solutions,”
said Salim A. L. Bhatia, chairman, president and CEO of
“Our efforts are making it easier for educators and corporate professionals to create rich learning content through easy-to-use, IMS-compliant tools. By enabling organizations to create and manage online learning resources using popular Office 2000 applications, and Microsoft are helping make education and enterprisewide e-learning a reality.”

FrontPage 2000 Add-In Helps Faculties Harness the Web for Learning

Faculty members nationwide face the challenge of determining the most effective methods for integrating technology into their overall instructional programs, whether creating online courses or just making resources and materials available to students via the Internet. Microsoft FrontPage 2000, the latest version of the leading Web site creation and management tool, gives educators everything they need to design, create and manage Web pages, work with simple or complex Web sites, and publish on the Web, without needing to know HTML.

The newly released Quizzing Engine Add-In for FrontPage 2000 includes an updated version of the ClassWeb template that educators might have become familiar with in FrontPage 98 and also features additional comments and instructions on how to add content to Web pages. In addition, it provides a simple way for instructors to create quizzes consisting of multiple-choice and true-or-false questions for automatic grading. Depending on how the quiz is configured, students will be able to review their progress or retake the test multiple times. Using the full power of FrontPage 2000, faculty members can create test questions and answers that include various media types.

About IMS

The IMS Consortium is a member-supported, nonprofit, global organization that includes more than 200 campuses, university systems, tool vendors, system consultants and service providers, content developers, and U.S. and international governmental organizations committed to the development of timely, high-quality, practical open standards for interoperability of online learning and training tools, content and services. The IMS Learning Resource Meta-data specifications and other IMS specifications that are published or in progress are available at .

About Microsoft in Higher Education

Support for IMS meta-data standards and development of the Office 2000 and FrontPage 2000 add-ins are part of Microsoft’s effort to help colleges and universities build 21st-century campuses in the Connected Learning Community, where learning isn’t limited by walls, material on a library’s shelves, credentials of a university’s faculty, or the usual barriers of time, distance, convenience and access. In addition to being an IMS Investment Member for more than two years, Microsoft is an active participant in IMS technical activities, including coleading the IMS Content Interoperability Specifications Team. More information about Microsoft in Higher Education is available online at .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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